October 20 2014 Latest news:
by Paul Wright
Friday, August 22, 2014
Developers behind a new housing block in Kentish Town have been accused of turning some of its residents into second-class citizens after forcing its poorer families to use a more unsightly entrance at the back of the building.
The opening of the Prince’s Park flats in June has been marred by heavy criticism from neighbouring community groups and leaders with Camden Council’s cabinet member for housing branding the built-in segregation “divisive”.
The building in Prince of Wales Road, by developer Union Developments, consists of 36 private apartments and 19 affordable housing units.
Residents living in affordable housing are not able to reach their homes through the concierge-manned glass entrance like their private neighbours, but must instead use a basic wood-slated door round the back.
They are also forced to use separate bins and postal services and are not allowed to share some of the other amenities, such as the use of the underground car park.
Dubbed “poor doors”, the less fancy entrances are seen as a way to keep service costs of affordable housing flats down.
But Matt Sanders, former councillor for Haverstock and chairman of Friends of Talacre Gardens, which neighbours the development, said the policy “divided communities”.
He said: “It’s really sad we still have developments in Camden that separate communities like this. It isn’t in keeping with the values we have in the borough, where we champion everyone living side by side.
“It’s an issue I raised when I was on the planning committee in the past.
“Developers will make all kind of excuses like needing to keep service charges down. But I refuse to believe that we can’t put our heads together and come up with a solution that allows people to live together.”
The backlash against the two-tiered system joins London-wide anger over a rising number of developers in the city who are also dividing affordable housing tenants from their wealthier neighbours with separate entrances.
With other major global cities considering a ban on the practice the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has faced similar calls.
A heated debate is raging in New York after its city council approved a planning application for a luxurious Manhattan development with a “poor door”.
Speaking while on holiday in nearby Harlem, Camden Council’s cabinet member for housing Cllr Julian Fulbrook told the Ham&High: “In terms of social cohesion it’s essential people who live in the same building walk through the same entrances otherwise it’s very divisive.
“I’m looking at a couple of ‘projects’ in Harlem right now and it’s still a horrendously divided society. We don’t want this in Camden.”
A spokesman for Union Developments said: “This isn’t us wanting to separate our residents. The key reason is because housing associations generally want to keep service charges as low as possible, so don’t want to pay for a concierge or other amenities.”